News Presenter: Speaking of business relationships, A big question, does Africa need to rethink its relationship with business? That’s the view of one of the continent’s leading economists and philanthropists, Tony Elumelu. He is promoting what he calls Africapitalism – the idea that the private sector can transform Africa’s economy and society for the better. Well, he’s been speaking to our reporter Peter MC Job and began by explaining what continues to drive him.
Tony Elumelu: As a person and as an African, I believe that there’s so much you can do to uplift humanity. I believe that Africa is not well understood and every day, I want to see my living as an opportunity to showcase what Africa is made of and tell the world that in Africa we have entrepreneurs, we have economists, we have philanthropists, we have businesspeople, we have people who actually work in a very straight way.
Peter Macjob: A lot of people associate your name, your brand, with the phrase “Africapitalism”. You coined that phrase. Tell us a bit about that because it’s something you are quite enthusiastic about and you have been driving this message for quite a while. What does it really mean in the real sense of it?
Tony Elumelu: So across Africa, I got to see and appreciate first the commitment of all of us towards the development of Africa. Two, I got to see that the success of the private sector is not out of line with what government and public sector wants to achieve. I got to see that there is need for intersection – business and being good. And that formed the whole basis and inspiration of Africapitalism. Africapitalism is about a call on the private sector and stepping forward, investing, because that’s all we know how to do in the private sector. Investing in critical sectors of the African economy that will help us ultimately to drive economic prosperity and human improvement. For instance, investment in power when you invest in Power in Africa, it’s not just about profitability, but it is about creating prosperity and uplifting Africa because without access to electricity, we don’t develop as a continent. The people who we support at The Tony Elumelu Foundation, the young entrepreneurs, I say to them “Tell me, how your business can help create prosperity for you and prosperity for society” is one of the eligibility criteria that we use in choosing who benefits from the programme. So because we just want to build, inculcate it into the subconscious of upcoming African entrepreneurs and private sector leaders to know. It’s not just about you succeeding in business. It’s about you succeeding in business that uplifts everyone – you, your business, communities you’re involved with, and everyone. Because that is how we can help develop Africa.